Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, previously known as Smith River Rancheria,[4][5] is a federally recognized tribe of Tolowa people in Del Norte County, California.[6] They are Athabascan people, distantly related to northern Athabascans of eastern Alaska and western Canada, as well as the Apache and Navajo peoples of the American Southwest.[2]

Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation
Total population
1,609 enrolled members[1]
285 enrolled (1995)
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California)
English, Tolowa[2]
Related ethnic groups
other Tolowa people,[2] Tututni and Chetco peoples[3]

As of the 2010 Census the population of this group was 113.[7] Tolowa people are also part of other federally recognized tribes in northern California and Oregon.


The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is headquartered in Smith River, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, seven-member tribal council. Their current tribal administration is as follows:

  • Chairperson: Denise Padgette
  • Vice Chairperson: Jeri Lynn Thompson
  • Secretary: LeAnn McCallum
  • Treasurer: Dr. Joseph Giovannett
  • Councilmember: Cari Nelson
  • Councilmember: Kara Brundin Miller
  • Councilmember: Marvin Richards, Sr.
  • Tribal Administrator: Open


The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is a federally recognized tribe, which owns 805 acres of land on or adjacent to its reservation in Del Norte County, north of Crescent City.[6] The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation was established in 1906; their land used to consist of only 30-acres.[8] The nearest community is Smith River, while the nearest incorporated city is Brookings, Oregon, about 10 miles to the north. In 1862, the US Government established the Smith River Reservation, which consisted of 16,000 acres and which was abandoned by the U.S. in 1868.

Economic development

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation (Smith River Rancheria) owns and operates the Lucky 7 Casino and Xaa-wan'-k'wvt Village Resort in Smith River, California.[9]

Notable members

  • Eunice Bommelyn, Tolowa language proponent, cultural advocate, genealogist, and historian.[10]
  • Loren Me’-lash-ne Bommelyn, language educator, traditionalist, basket weaver
  • Dr. Joseph Giovannetti, professor, writer, lecturer, genocide expert, CSU Humboldt, Sports Hall of Fame, track & field
  • Drew Roberts, CSU Humboldt, Sports Hall of Fame, football
  • Jolanda Ingram Obie, attorney
  • Ron James, carver


  1. "About Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation." Smith River Rancheria. Retrieved 4 June 2015
  2. "Tolowa Indians." SDSU: California Indians and Their Reservations. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  3. Pritzker 147
  4. "" (PDF). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  5. Triplicate, Laura. "Triplicate". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  6. "Smith River Rancheria." SDSU: California Indians and Their Reservations. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  7. Pritzker 148
  8. "California Casinos - Indian Casinos by Tribe." 500 Nations. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  9. Spencer, Adam (28 April 2012). "Tolowa mourn loss of a leader: Eunice Bommelyn". Del Norte Triplicate. Retrieved 9 September 2012.

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